So I figured that since it’s the weekend, I should make a tea that I can’t possibly make on the weekdays with my new schedule. What tea better to make than a chai. Not only a chai, but a pu-erh chai?
So for this one, I used the traditional takgoti recipe for chai (1 tbsp chai, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 cup milk (soy), 1 cup water) and did the traditional simmering thing. First off, let’s talk about the dry leaves, which are gorgeous. There’s large chunks of cinnamon bark here, and my sample had a single, seagreen cardamom pod. The smell was spicy, rich and earthy. Just the way I like it.
One of the most wonderful smells is chai simmering on a stovetop. Seriously. Everyone that walked into my kitchen kept MMMing and AHHHing. It’s pretty cold here in NYC, and the smell was just immediately warming and comforting.
I should note that I used Very Vanilla Silk soymilk in this one. I would have used regular vanilla, but I was out of it. Besides, Very Vanilla is actually creamier, less nutty, and tastes like a melted vanilla milkshake. So I figured it’d pair nicely with the earth accents of the chai. Anyway, this one simmering smelled deliciously of cinnamon and cardamom, with a delicious pu-erh base.
Before I poured the milk in, the water/sugar/tea combo was ridiculously dark. The leaves almost disappeared in the murkiness. It was pretty interesting. Once the milk was added, the chai was significantly darker than your run-of-the-mill black chai. More like chocolate milk instead of caffe au lait.
After letting it sit for 9+ minutes, I strained the concoction and poured. The first though I had with sipping this was, boy, is this rich and sweet. Seriously sweet. I think I might need to lay a bit lower with the sugar next time, since Very Vanilla is pretty sugariffic. But anyway, the sweetness here was delicious. Then the spices came in, with soft accents of cardamom and puffs of cinnamon. The finish was rich and deep and pu-erh, which was welcome and wonderful. I don’t think the pu-erh is overwhelming here as well, but serves as a backbone to the spices instead.
Even my mom liked this one, and she pretty much intensely dislikes the taste of pu-erh. She said that it was “warming and welcoming,” which is entirely true.
I didn’t really get any of the citrus that GM points out in their tasting notes, but sweet, rich, spiced, wonderful goodness is all here. Chai is its own drink. It’s tea, but it goes above and beyond tea to this rich and delicious concoction. I think this method of preparation has to beat the pants off of just adding milk to a regular cup of chai-like tea. You don’t get the combination of delicious flavors, the uniformity of a unique beverage. Mmmmmm.
I also put a little in the fridge to cool. This bit after it was ice-cold tasted more strongly of pu-erh, with the spices taking a backseat. It was enjoyable, but still not as wonderful and amazing as the hot mixture.
Perfect, perfect, perfect to sip on a cold day. And for watching the Winter Olympic Games! The Opening Ceremony was definitely meh at points, but Gretzky on a jeep in the van being chased by rabid Canadians was absolutely hilarious.
Mmmmmm. I be happiness right now.